EPHRATA — Dakota Fingar wasn’t seeing the ball all that well the night before, so he went back to basics in the cage with the tee and worked on his stroke. He focused on seeing the laces of the ball and getting a level swing.
The work away from live pitching paid off on Monday as the Columbia Basin center fielder turned on a fast ball and drove it over the left field fence for a three-run home run in the top of the fifth to give the River Dogs a 4-1 lead. Columbia Basin improved to 2-1 in American Pool with a 6-3 victory over previously unbeaten Cape Cod, Mass., Monday night in the Senior Babe Ruth World Series at Johnson-O’Brien Stadium.
“I told Dakota after he struck out with the bases loaded last night that that was going to get him started. He had a great night tonight with two hits, including the big home run,” River Dogs skipper Randy Boruff said.
Fingar drove one to the fence in just about the same spot in the previous at-bat. In the fifth, he got all of it for the first River Dog homer of the tournament to break a 1-1 tie with Cape Cod.
“I was just focusing on the laces of the ball. Tonight I attacked first pitch and seemed to see it a lot more clear. He threw me a fastball inside and I just turned on it nice and pretty,” said Fingar, who finished 2-for-4 with three RBI. “It felt good. When I kept my legs in the stance it felt clear as day. I knew I had enough stance to hit power.”
The River Dogs (2-1) scored six runs on 12 hits. Shortstop Joe Taylor continued his tear with a 3-for-3 night. Arcenio Martinez was also 3-for-3 and drive in two runs, including an RBI single in the sixth when the River Dogs added a couple of insurance runs,
Columbia Basin got another big pitching performance again on Monday. Tonasket left-hander Quincy Vasser rebounded from a first-inning home run and a double to pitch 41/2 innings, giving up three runs and scattering seven hits. Cape Cod’s Ryan Proto blasted a solo home run and Macaire LaBarge stroke a double. But Vasser settled in and held the New England Region champions to just one run.
“I settled in and trusted the defense and not try to strike every guy out,” the 16-year-old said. “I didn’t have the best stuff in the bull pen, so I let the defense work and they made a lot of big catches in the outfield.”
Martinez made the defensive play of the game when he turned his back to the infield and chased down a shot to the wall in left field for the catch on the warning track in the bottom half of the fifth. Taylor worked his magic at shortstop in one of the finest showcases at the position so far in the tournament. Taylor had a couple of spectacular running grab-and-throws. Cape Cod’s Samuel Majewski was nothing short of amazing on the other side with a couple of diving stops and strong-arm throws for the out.
Columbia Basin has the day off on Tuesday and returns to the diamond Wednesday at 8 p.m. against Mt. Olive, N.J.